Julia Margaret Schaefer of Waymart was a treasure — a beautiful life that ended far too soon.

 Julia Margaret Schaefer of Waymart was a treasure — a beautiful life that ended far too soon.
“That’s where her name came from. I named her Julia because she was a treasure to me. Her middle name is Margaret, named after her grandmother,” says her dad, Jason Schaefer of Lake Ariel.

Due to enter the seventh grade at Western Wayne Middle School,  12-year-old Julia passed away Aug. 16th at her home in Waymart.   

Days after her death, her dad struggles to hold back the tears as he talks about the little girl he loved so much. “I’m just hanging on to that thin thread we call life,” he said.

“I miss her smile. I miss her kindness,” he said. “It was things that she had that no one could take away; it was kindness, her smile, her beauty.”

A budding artist, she loved to draw; was into all kinds of music, especially punk rock; and had enjoyed basketball cheerleading at R.D. Wilson School. 

There’s so many cherished memories. Like the picture she painted when she was all of 8 — an underwater scene filled with fish and coral.

 “She drew a pastel clown for me when she was 10. That was on Father’s Day that she gave me that,” he said, his voice cut off by emotion. 

“I worked for Trios for a while and my boss had given me a horse. One of his horse’s hurt his knee and he donated his horse to me. And I told him my daughter had a barn where she was living and she could keep the horse there. So, she started to get into horses a little bit,” he said.
“She enjoyed fishing, too. I used to take her fishing when she was younger,” shared the heartbroken dad.

Candlelight Vigil

A candlelight vigil in Julia’s memory is planned for Saturday, Aug. 27th, 7 p.m. at the Salem Masonic Pavilion in Hamlin, located about a 1/2 mile south of Hamlin Corners.

Guest speakers will include Rev. Patricia Lee, pastor of the Sterling United Methodist Church; Dr. Charles Bacinelli, who holds a doctorate in child psychology; and Captain William Springer, Dunmore Police Department, who will share an anti-bullying message.

Asked about the anti-bullying message, John Schaefer, Julia’s grandfather, said, “What we’re reading on the internet is alleged bullying. We can’t say that it’s bullying (that contributed to her death) because we don’t know. But I believe the Waymart police is investigating.”

Thousands of people have posted messages on Facebook, offering both their sympathies and strong words against bullying. 

Neighbor Joanne Dzielak of Waymart, who lives about a mile away, said, “I’m very upset ... This is tragic all the way around.

“Bullying is not a game. It’s not a funny joke to laugh at. It’s a crime. So stop! I'm hoping that all my friends reading this will talk to all and any children about bullying and make them understand it’s not okay and they should always report a problem no matter how big or small to a responsible party. Maybe this tragic death could have been prevented. R.I.P. Julia. You will be forever in our minds and our hearts,” she posted.

Referring to cyberbullying, Jason Schaefer said, “If it’s proven not to be bullying, well, then, it might save another child’s life by having Officer William Springer speak at the vigil. 

“I feel that the Internet is not regulated enough and these kids say some of the meanest things to each other ... Bullying is something that kids don’t realize the emotion that they can trigger by the things they say. This cyberbullying is something new and only a few states have laws against it. I know N.Y. has new anti bullying laws. But Pa. really doesn’t have anything since it’s so new,” Jason said.

 Springer, who spent 8 years as a resource officer in the Dunmore School District, said, “During my course of time there, I spent a lot of time dealing with bullies and harassment situations.
 “I’ve seen the damage that bullying and harassment causes kids first hand. I’ve seen how damaging it can be for a kid to be picked on. I think one of the biggest things that I see, kids don’t realize when someone’s being hurt. What starts out as fun for one person or a simple joke may not necessarily be taken that way by the person being laughed at,” he said.

“And the real message is we all have a responsibility to put an end to bullying and harassing behavior,” Springer said.

How do we do that?

“It starts with acts of kindness. Telling someone that they look nice today ... inviting someone to sit with you at a lunch table; it’s an endless list of things,” Springer said.

To a child who feels all alone, Springer sends a personal message: “There’s always people available to help you. There’s always someone available. Your parents, your school guidance counselors, teachers, clergy. It’s really an endless list of adults, people that will help.”

Donations in Julia’s memory may be made to the: Pike and Wayne Suicide Awareness Group through the Sterling United Methodist Church,  PO Box 25, Sterling, Pa., 18463.